2018 Fiat 500X

Fiat Introduces New Chrome Packages But The Shine Is Lacking

Chrome isn’t just for big trucks, now little Fiats are in on the action with a new appearance package for the 500L and 500X. Add this to Fiat’s recent package blitz which includes the Urbana, Blue Sky, and Adventurer editions. And while these appearance packages have their allure, it’s like a sparkler or sugar snake when what’s really needed is a blazing bottle rocket.

The Fiat lineup could use an extensive redesign. Something. Anything. These upgraded packages are great, but only go so far as the brand struggles to maintain traction.

Tiny Tanks

People either love or loathe Fiat; their cars are either amazing or asinine. Their Italian styling is rather unconventional considering what Americans are normally accustomed to. Traditionally, we are a culture of big trucks and stylish SUVs, a stark contrast to the tiny cruisers of the Fiat farm. Although, like a lot of products sold across this great country, the Fiat brand is personality-driven and those who have them closely identify with them.

While it’s a story for another time, I came into Fiat ownership by sheer happenstance. I likely would have bought another Ford because that’s what I drove for years, but my 2016 500X changed the way I see the Fiat.

My 500X is a tiny tank. Literally. Michigan roads, especially around metro Detroit, are rough. A vehicle’s suspension and chassis will take a licking here, and that’s not including winter. The 500X, in its current form, rides on a Jeep platform, a huge advantage in terms of durability. Mine is front-wheel drive, although all-wheel drive is available. I get about 7,500 miles between oil changes and with the nine-speed automatic (which shifts seamlessly), I average upwards of 38 to 40 mpg on the highway.

Although most of what you read on Fiat is exactly the opposite. Just scan the latest rankings from Consumer Reports.

2018 Fiat 500X
Fiat 500X with the Satin Chrome Appearance Group. Photo: FCA US LLC.

Shot In The Dark

What is Fiat to do? Truthfully, I don’t have the answer. If I did, I would likely be an executive there making the big bucks, but I would suggest we stop scratching for sardines and fry bigger fish. It’s time for an overhaul. Something. Anything. It wouldn’t hurt to “Americanize” the lineup a bit – not saying to abandon the Italian flare entirely – but finding a way to marry the styling cues of both cultures might help, especially for the 500X.

If I’m Fiat, I’m working overtime to make meaningful connections with the younger buyers who want small SUVs.

The 124 Spider and 500 Abarth are cool and they can stay. The 500L cannot. It’s hideous. Yet, according to Fiat, U.S. sales are up more than 20 percent year-over-year through June, making the 500L Fiat’s fastest growing nameplate. Sure. Fine. But the 500L is the one ugly duckling that’s not growing up to be a beautiful swan.

How about a nice, sporty mid-size sedan? Honda, Toyota, and Nissan are profitable with cars like this, why not Fiat? Slap an Abarth badge on there with some horsepower, braking and suspension upgrades, and suddenly the Fusion Sport and Regal GS have company. How about the Audi S4 or BMW 340i? Why not? Kia is taking on the Germans with the Stinger, why not a muscled-up Fiat too?

2018 Fiat 500L
Fiat 500L with the Chrome Appearance Group. Photo: FCA US LLC.

Happy Accident

I don’t have the whole picture as to what is going on at Fiat, but for better or worse, it seems like a lot. I won’t speak for them and I am sure they know what they are doing, but a complete redesign of key vehicles, like the 500X and 500L (shudder), would help immensely.

I don’t see people waiting on pins and needles going “Oh, I just cannot wait to see the Chrome Appearance Group on the new Fiats.” If somebody gets one of these new chromed Fiats it will likely be by accident. They went in looking at a 500X, liked the one on the showfloor, and it just so happened to have this chrome package.

Just in case you are chomping at the bit for one, the equipment list is below. I’ll be over here, holding my breath for the Fiat Abarth performance sedan.

Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan. He studies mechanical engineering at Wayne State University, serves on the Board of Directors for the Ally Jolie Baldwin Foundation, and is a loyal Detroit Lions fan.

Fiat 500L Chrome Appearance Group

  • MSRP: $495.
  • Fog lamps.
  • Body side chrome accents.
  • Front fascia chrome accents.
  • Rear reflector chrome bezels.
  • 17-inch aluminum wheels with black pockets.
  • Available for all seven exterior colors: Grigio Chiaro (graphite metallic), Nero (black), Bianco (white), Rosso (red), Grigio Scuro (grey metallic), Blue Tornado, and Blue Denim.

Fiat 500X Satin Chrome Appearance Group

  • MSRP: $395 (all-wheel drive) / $695 (front-wheel drive).
  • Satin silver roof rails.
  • Fog and cornering lamps, automatic headlamps.
  • 17-inch aluminum wheels (front-wheel drive only).
  • Satin chrome accents: exterior mirrors, door handles, and body side moldings.
  • Satin chrome accents: fog lamp bezels, front fascia, front and rear badges, liftgate handle.

Photos & Source: FCA US LLC.